Jan 2nd – My #FinishYear begins!

Photo credit to Idea Go via freedigitalphotos.net

So, Summer asked me yesterday what I resolved to do this year.  You see, for some reason, that’s something that people do in an around the first of January.  If I am honest with myself, I used to make resolutions, and have for several years … though I can think of very few that I actually accomplished.

It was this history of (let’s be honest) failure at meeting these life goals, that prompted me to think about and complete my 30 While 30 List, the journey that I have been on this whole year, starting on March 10th 2011, and which will end on March 9th of this year … just over 60 days from now.  So, this year, January 1st wasn’t as meaningful a day for me as it might have been in past years.  This year, January 1st was not unlike any other day. Continue reading


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas Eve!

I have been absent for most of the month of December.  I know you all have missed me.

Luckily the wife is doing a better job recording things than me.

First things first, I am taking a cue from Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff), and taking a reprieve from blogging until after the new year.

To best catch up with me, take a look at some recent posts from my wife:

Me finishing my first half-marathon.

Our recent Christmas trip to NY, NY.

As far as what you’ll see in the new year:

1. By March, I’ll be transferring a lot of content to my new (and a little more sophisticated) website/blog (#27 – Launch my professional entity website.).  Looking for a launch right around when I close out the 30 While 30 project.

2. Excited about a lot of things as the year starts.  Applications are out to TSU and Vanderbilt, so we will know something about #28 (Decide whether or not I am going on to my PhD).

3. I am under 90 days left in my 30th year, so look forward to many updates as I try to complete as much as I reasonably can before March 10th, 2012.

4. The 30 While 30 Project isn’t even over, but I am already jumping in to the next year.  I am participating in Jon Acuff’s #FinishYear.  Take a look about what that is all about here.

5. You will finally start seeing more book review posts.  I have read about 20 books so far this year, but for some reason the hardest type of writing I have done all year is write about what I have read about, without using what I have read as a reference.  It’s been a bit of a barrier.

Anyone know where I can jump in some cold water with a bunch of other people during the winter season?


Real presents for the people who have everything … 72 hours and counting.

It is now less than 72 hours before Christmas morning.  If you are like a minority of people, your shopping is done.  If you are like most of us, there is still someone that you are planning for that seems to have everything that they may need or even want.

I know that this year it is likely, by no fault of those that buy for me, that I will get things that are less likely to be used, and instead will be objects that I will have to continue to simplify.

This understanding is part of the reason that Summer and I decided that instead of purchasing things for each other, that we would experience a new place as our gifts to each other.  Read more about that here.

So, in the spirit of popular posts for the last days before the biggest shopping holiday of the year, here are some bona-fide ideas to get for people for whom you don’t know what to get, and seem to have everything.

Buy a chicken.

Support a child in a foreign country.

Help the homeless have a meal to eat.

Give the gift of giving.

I know it sounds a little corny, but in this season (as many other bloggers have mentioned and brought to bear for us), we do tend to get caught up in what we can get out of this season, instead of what we can put in.  Even the most devout Christians pine over buying a pink or Chartreuse sweater which we have no guarantee that the other person will use … much less like (just being honest folks).

So instead, take a look at a few ideas here to use your money to multiply lives as opposed to consume resources.  And, on the bright side, you’re guaranteed to get a thanks when they open it … cause no one is going to frown at a gift that helps those that need it. 🙂

1. Local Church.

If you are involved in a local church, sometimes a gift to a cause in your local church keep money local and can make a considerable difference.  See if there are particular projects to which you can contribute.  Building projects, support for local missionaries, building up food kitchens, or scholarships for youth to go to events or complete mission work.  This is a great place to start.

2. Nashville Rescue Mission.

If you are in the middle Tennessee area, consider a gift to this amazing organization.  Much more than a homeless shelter, this program utilizes its resources (all of which are donation – they do not take any form of government assistance) to not only feed and house Nashville’s homeless short term, but also have programs to help totally rehabilitate troubled and hurting lives.  My wife and I have personally given to this organization and we consider them dollars very well spent.

3. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

I’ve written about this place many times before, but will toss it in here as a wonderful place for a donation to be made in honor of someone you know.  This year, I was able to raise 500.00 for the hospital as part of my 30 While 30 Goal list, completing their half-marathon earlier this month.  A wonderful opportunity to share life by giving to an organization that leads the world in cancer treatments for children and operates primarily on donation … also never turning a child away because they could not afford the treatment.

And now, some options on a much more global scale:

4. Samaritan’s Purse.

Provided in the title is a link to Samaritan’s Purse “Gift Catalog”.  In this way, you can make donations to various different projects around the world, ranging from providing clean water, to building a church, and my personal favorite, buying actual animals (sheep, goats, honeybees) to help support foreign communities increase their self-sufficiency.  While it is too late to participate this year, there is a shoebox program that allows you to fill up a standard size shoebox with items to bring joy to a child far, far away.

5. World Vision.

Rachel Held Evans, a blogger I follow had the opportunity to travel to Bolivia to experience first hand the work that World Vision does through it’s child sponsorship program.  I won’t repeat what she has said, but you can read some of the stories here.  This program does not center so much on the individual child that is sponsored, but instead works to improve the community as a whole, teaching skills, helping to develop lasting self-sustainment programs, and increasing the capacity of whole villages to increase their quality of life.

6. Charity: Water.

A charity based on a very simple premise: providing clean drinking water to those that don’t have it.  Charity:Water has an impeccable reputation on the ratio of donated funds that actually go to the on-the-ground projects.  This is an organization where a very small amount of money can make a very big difference.

–          –          –

So, if you’re looking for something that you can’t find at the mall, or you wonder if it will even get used, here are a few options.

Are there some good ones that I missed?  Let me know in the comments! 

Have a Merry Christmas!

30 While 30: Day 272 – Getting kicked in the pants by Yoda, and why we all need it once in a while. (how I ran my first half-marathon)

Sometimes old sayings bite you in the rear, just when you need them, or just when you’re putting together a post about something very, very big.

While taking a look at my reader yesterday, checking in with some of the folks I have been following lately, I came across a most serendipitous post from Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt on Twitter).

… and I just wish I had been the one to write it.

But I didn’t.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it.  HERE it is.

“Do … or do not.  There is no try” – Yoda Continue reading

30 While 30: Day 257 – Not “for what” … but “how” are you thankful?

Today is a special day.

“This is the day, that the LORD has made.  Let us rejoice, and be glad in it.” -Psalm 118.24

Some days, that is all that you can really be happy about … at least you may think.

To be perfectly honest, I have been in a bit of a funk the last week or so.  It might be easy to blame it on lots of other stuff:

Time change.

Gloomy, rainy days.

Anatomy and Physiology Quizzes.

Not a lot of rest (not sleep, mind you, but rest – believe me, there is a difference)

It might be easy, until I start to lecture myself like the good counselor and mentor that I am… Continue reading

What’s in a cup?

So … every once in a while I treat myself to a Caramel Mocha from Fivebucks .. errr … I mean Starbucks.  It is a guilty indulgence, and definitely not an every day kinda thing, but every so often I do partake in the glorious bean juice.

Today was one of those mornings.  This particular morning I went in to the local shop (which is close to where I work), and immediately noticed something about the place that day. Continue reading

23 Days and Counting until St. Jude’s Marathon!

Just over three weeks until the big day!

If you are interested, please give to this amazing organization and support me in literally the biggest race of my life so far.

My personal fundraising site can be found here.

Just search for me: “Thomas Vertrees”, and then there is a “donate now” button.

Any support is encouraged.  It’s coming soon!